Political Pickle

The irony of Andhra’s numbers

It was one of the lowest moments in Jaganmohan Reddy’s political career. In 2017, 23 of his 66 legislators crossed over to the ruling Telugu Desam and four of them were made ministers in the Chandrababu Naidu cabinet. His colleague in the YSRCP, Ambati Rambabu says such mass desertions scar a leader psychologically and make you wonder if you are on the right path. 

Before that, three YSRCP MPs had moved over to the TDP camp, reducing Jagan’s strength in the Lok Sabha to just five. 

But when it came to polling day on 11 April, the people of Andhra Pradesh, it would seem, had not forgotten these numbers. Naidu would not miss the irony of his Telugu Desam party ending up with 23 MLAs and three MPs in this election, exactly the number he had poached. It is a classic case of tit-for-tat and Jagan could not have delivered better political revenge. 

Rambabu points out that the defectors were punished by the voters as well with 20 of the 23 MLAs losing the election on the TDP ticket this time.

What Naidu did was political opportunism. He criticised K Chandrasekhar Rao in neighbouring Telangana for poaching 12 of his 15 TDP legislators but with a straight face and preaching political morality to all and sundry, he enticed 23 YSRCP lawmakers to switch sides. What’s worse, like in Telangana, the Andhra speaker Kodela Sivaprasad Rao turned a blind eye to the defiance of the anti-defection law. Incidentally, Rao also lost the election this time.  

Jagan made his five MPs resign over the Special Category status issue, which meant when the Lok Sabha debated the issue during the TDP-sponsored no-confidence motion, the YSRCP voice was not heard. Today Jagan has made a triumphant return to the same Lok Sabha and along with the DMK’s 23 MPs and the Trinamool’s 22 MPs, is a formidable regional party presence in the House of People.

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